3 people charged with stealing identities of Surfside condo collapse victims
Driving the news: Betsy Alejandra Cacho-Medina, 30, Kimberly Michelle Johnson, 34, and Rodney Choute, 38, are charged with an organized scheme to defraud, as well as multiple counts of identity fraud and other crimes, the Miami Herald reports.
- "Cyber grave robbers did move very quickly after the collapse to grab what they could while family and friends were in absolute emotional turmoil," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said Wednesday, per Reuters.
- The suspects are accused of stealing the personal identification of at least seven victims of the collapse — five of whom were killed — and using the identities to obtain credit cards and make fraudulent transactions of up to $50,000, per Reuters. Investigators allege the scheme began in early July.
The big picture: The arrests come more than two months after Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, collapsed overnight, killing 98 people.
- The investigation into the fraud scheme is still ongoing, and more suspects and victims could emerge, per Reuters.
What they're saying: "This investigation has also shown that these individuals appeared to be very skilled identity thieves and professionals," Fernandez Rundle said.
- "Except for their names, almost nothing else about seemed to be true."
Go deeper: Remembering the victims of the Surfside condo collapse